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Is the idea that our good works in this life help build the kingdom of God in the next Biblical? This is an idea endorsed by NT. Wright (who I would not recommend and who I am not endorsing). However, it was mentioned at church recently, and it was something I had never heard before. A short snippet from a review of Wright's book "Surprised by Hope " fleshes the idea out a little more. I am skeptical of the idea, but would like other opinions. I do believe that our works here will have an influence on our heavenly state/reward (although not our salvation or justification), but I am not sure exactly what is meant by "building the kingdom of God".

Thanks.

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The conclusion that Wright draws from this is that the good works done in this life "will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day we leave it behind altogether.... They are part of what we call building for the kingdom of God" (p. 193). The present hope of the Resurrection is that the good works we do in this life will not only be preserved but they will also be brought to completion by God as part of the even better things to come.

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John,

Right off the top, since this is a view held by N.T. Wright, it should be automatically suspect. wink

I personally find no indication that what good works a true believer does here on earth will have any part in the New Heaven and New Earth, which are spiritual in nature, i.e., where holiness and perfection will come to their full expression. This is not to deny the physical reality of the New Earth, of course. But it is God's design and His only which will be evident there.

Secondly, even the best of our "good works" and efforts to further the Kingdom of God, which is the calling of sinners to repentance and faith in Christ and then the making of them as disciples, are fraught with error and sin. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is not some physical entity, which the Jews and Dispensationalists and in some measure Postmillennialists foresee, but rather it is a spiritual reality (cf. Lk 17:21).

Thirdly, one must also consider what future this present world holds when all of it is to be destroyed by the wrath of God through fire and a New Heaven and Earth created (2Pet 3:10,13; Isa 65:17-19; Rev 21:1). What then will what is done by God's elect here on earth exist and be part of the New Heaven and Earth? scratchchin


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Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Right off the top, since this is a view held by N.T. Wright, it should be automatically suspect. wink

I agree. However, I did not know if this was a new interpretation introduced by him or if it had a historical basis. It was the first time that I had heard of it, but I can't claim to be well-read in this area. In the group that this was brought up in, many seemed to be quite taken by the idea.

Originally Posted by Pilgrim
I personally find no indication that what good works a true believer does here on earth will have any part in the New Heaven and New Earth, which are spiritual in nature, i.e., where holiness and perfection will come to their full expression. This is not to deny the physical reality of the New Earth, of course. But it is God's design and His only which will be evident there.

Secondly, even the best of our "good works" and efforts to further the Kingdom of God, which is the calling of sinners to repentance and faith in Christ and then the making of them as disciples, are fraught with error and sin. Jesus said that the kingdom of God is not some physical entity, which the Jews and Dispensationalists and in some measure Postmillennialists foresee, but rather it is a spiritual reality (cf. Lk 17:21).

Thirdly, one must also consider what future this present world holds when all of it is to be destroyed by the wrath of God through fire and a New Heaven and Earth created (2Pet 3:10,13; Isa 65:17-19; Rev 21:1). What then will what is done by God's elect here on earth exist and be part of the New Heaven and Earth? scratchchin

Thanks for your comments. Your final question is also a good one to consider.

John

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John,

It really isn't a "new interpretation" (there is nothing new under the sun) although it has Wright's own personal 'twist'. The theological Liberals have embraced this type of an idea for years. Basically, it is a view that promotes political and social reform with the goal of transforming society (the world) for Christ. Wright's 'twist' is that it will have eternal consequences. In this book, which admittedly I haven't read and have no desire to read, he also promotes his heretical views on Hell, which is similar to C.S. Lewis, Rob Bell, Tim Keller, and a few other popular individuals who deny retributive justice where God's eternal wrath is poured out on the ungodly in both body and soul.

What makes books like this so dangerous is that there is an element of truth in them. In this case, Wright, from what I understand, does a decent job of expounding on the subject of the resurrection. My unwavering advice, with all such books, is that unless someone is wanting to know what such writers believe for the purpose of critiquing them and then denouncing them, one should avoid them at all cost. flee


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Originally Posted by Pilgrim
John,

It really isn't a "new interpretation" (there is nothing new under the sun) although it has Wright's own personal 'twist'. The theological Liberals have embraced this type of an idea for years. Basically, it is a view that promotes political and social reform with the goal of transforming society (the world) for Christ. Wright's 'twist' is that it will have eternal consequences. In this book, which admittedly I haven't read and have no desire to read, he also promotes his heretical views on Hell, which is similar to C.S. Lewis, Rob Bell, Tim Keller, and a few other popular individuals who deny retributive justice where God's eternal wrath is poured out on the ungodly in both body and soul.

It's interesting that you brought up the social gospel. In the same discussion that this was brought up in, Lesslie Newbigin was mentioned (promoted) quite a bit. I was at the time (and still mostly am) unfamiliar with him, but from the little I've read recently, he seems to be associated with the social gospel. I was unable to find whether he espoused the view that Wright does concerning the future of our works. Do you know much about Newbigin? I did not read enough to know how orthodox he is, but I did notice that he seems to have gained in popularity in 'reformed' circles.


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What makes books like this so dangerous is that there is an element of truth in them. In this case, Wright, from what I understand, does a decent job of expounding on the subject of the resurrection. My unwavering advice, with all such books, is that unless someone is wanting to know what such writers believe for the purpose of critiquing them and then denouncing them, one should avoid them at all cost. flee

You'll get no argument from me here. There are too many great and sound books to read to waste much time sifting through books separating the wheat and the chafe.

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Lesslie Newbigin is not Reformed nor even theologically conservative. I think the following quote reveals enough about Newbigin, even though the author of the quote has his own errors to account for, e.g., semi-Pelagian, KJV Onlyist, etc.:

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"LESSLIE NEWBIGIN (1909-1998). He was a bishop in the very liberal Church of South India and was Associate General Secretary in the radically heretical World Council of Churches. In The Gospel in a Pluralist Society Newbigin denied that the Bible is the verbally-plenarily inspired Word of God and said the 18th century defenders of the faith were in error when they taught that the Bible is a set of timeless truths. Newbigin falsely claimed that Jesus did not leave behind "a book, nor a creed, nor a system of thought, nor a rule of life" (p. 20). Newbigin wrote, "All so-called facts are interpreted facts. . . What we see as facts depends on the theory we bring to the observation" (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p. 21). Newbigin called the split between liberals and fundamentalists "tragic" (p. 24). He taught that there is the possibility of salvation apart from faith in Christ."

by David Cloud
From what I've read from Newbigin, mostly quotes and testimonials from admirers, what Cloud wrote in the quote above is accurate. In short, Lesslie Newbigin, who btw is seen in a positive light by Tim Keller, Brian McClaren (emergent church heretic), and quite a number of "questionable" individuals, is simply another one to completely avoid.


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Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Lesslie Newbigin is not Reformed nor even theologically conservative. I think the following quote reveals enough about Newbigin, even though the author of the quote has his own errors to account for, e.g., semi-Pelagian, KJV Onlyist, etc.:

...

From what I've read from Newbigin, mostly quotes and testimonials from admirers, what Cloud wrote in the quote above is accurate. In short, Lesslie Newbigin, who btw is seen in a positive light by Tim Keller, Brian McClaren (emergent church heretic), and quite a number of "questionable" individuals, is simply another one to completely avoid.

Thanks for the information about Newbigin. As I said I only heard about him recently, so am fairly unfamiliar with him. I've noticed him on a lot of 'reformed' seminary reading lists, although I can't say how he is actually taught in the classroom. It's frustrating to see supposedly 'reformed' people recommend books by people like him, especially over solidly biblical writers.










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